Working in hospitality requires being a team player. Even more so when hoteliers consider the value in courting a very specific demographic: Traveling sports teams. Programs aimed at attracting athletes and coaches of all levels allow brands to provide a specialized experience for traveling teams when they are off the field.
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is currently taking advantage of this niche market with its Sports Approved Hotel program. Inspired by feedback from its sports advisory board, the company developed a program that caters to the specific needs of traveling sports teams, from youth athletes all the way up to the professionals. Carlson Rezidor is not the first company to do this—other hotel companies target this market—but what distinguishes its program is that participating hotels must complete a certification course before being able to brand themselves as a “sports approved” hotel. “Rather than just marketing to the sports customer, we wanted to develop something that benefited our hotels in terms of education,” says Kaaren Hamilton, vice president of global group sales for the Americas at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.
The program educates staff on the nuances of the different sporting levels and how to best deliver and create that experience a team is looking for. But knowing how to cater to the traveling sports demographic is only half the battle. Knowing how to attract this market segment and set optimal group rates greatly affects the ROI of any of these programs. That’s why Carlson Rezidor’s training process also involves information on team buying patterns and the procurement process, helping hoteliers understand the magnitude of the opportunities present within the sports market.
To maximize ROI for key traveler segments such as sports teams, many hotel properties are leveraging the capabilities of revenue management systems. Erik Browning, VP of business consulting for the Rainmaker Group, a revenue optimization company, says the use of software can help hoteliers make the most of their niche markets. “Through solutions with a proven science-based algorithm, hoteliers can streamline the process and create consistent pricing among similar or even duplicate leads and prevent the possibility of leaving money on the table,” he explains.
And when reaching out to a specific group works, it works really well. Since Carlson Rezidor launched its sports program in May, the company reports that more than 250 hotels have been approved as members. “It’s been a pleasure seeing the way our hotels have engaged and put their personalities into the program,” says Hamilton.